Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
Yesterday I was out shopping with my mother but we couldn’t find the widget she was trying to track down.
“Let’s find someone who can help,” she said, heading to the next aisle to ask.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said, looking up from my phone as she turned back to see if I was following, “I just now bought it on Amazon.” The widget arrived this morning right after breakfast.
Of course in the middle of thinking about this our old (very old) flatscreen died so we replaced it with a “smart” television and now my Amazon Prime account is available in 43-inch, 1080, High Definition. My printer automatically connects Hewlett Packard when I’m low on ink so they can send me refills just in time. I read the newspaper every morning on my iPad (which also knows where my phone is even when I don’t) and I’m pretty sure my Google account has been talking to my FaceBook app behind my back.
I asked our new friend Alexa what I should do about it all but it turns out she was no help at all. To be honest, I find that comforting.
I really am in a little bit of a quandary here (quandary, if you were wondering, means “a state of perplexity or uncertainty”) when I think about the wide panoply of electronic and media connected devices I am surrounded with.
My issue is that I am in the business of sharing light, inspiration, encouragement, hope, koinonia, and meaning – yet the media I engage to get my message out is more commonly used to spread darkness, division, discouragement, disillusion, hate, and confusion.
I am in the business of sharing light, inspiration, encouragement, hope, koinonia, and meaning – yet the media I engage to get my message out is more commonly used to spread darkness, division, discouragement, disillusion, hate, and confusion.
And, to make matters worse, everyday people like so many of my online contacts not only read but then share the negative stuff (at the same time as they complain about the Internet while completely ignoring articles like this one)!
I am Honestly Worried
Like many people, I am worried that America is becoming more and more fragmented and dangerously polarized. All these communication devices may have originally been imagined as fine ways to bring us together but the effect is quite the opposite. So here’s my question: do I redouble my efforts to add light and meaning – or is this mode of communication doomed as a lost cause?
I think what concerns me the most is how readily this technology is used to divide and how easily people allow themselves to be manipulated by what they are exposed to.
So I asked Alexa about truth, and this time the answer was useful: Truth – Alexa said – is, “Fact that has been verified; or, Conformity to reality or actuality.”
I believe the best starting place for us – if we want to move closer together as a people – would be to be more interested in truth than in being right, and then equally interested in verifying before we pass something on as reliable. I am beyond tired of witnessing otherwise intelligent people swallow flat-out fabrications whole and without checking – simply because the lies support conclusions/prejudices/views they already hold.
So encourage me, friends, by honing your skills when it comes to reliability. And encourage one another with a little more accountability now and then. I absolutely believe this country is worth it.
whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace WILL be with you. – Philippians 4:8-9
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.